Capturing life in words…
I have an addiction to my dogs. I have three, and I take one or more with me anytime I go anywhere animals are welcome. I really am not sure why dogs are not allowed in more places, because to be honest, there are days my dogs behave better than my children.
Aha! Yes, I do have children. And I love them more. Yet, if I am successful as a parent,
I care for and educate my children on how to live essentially without me. Autonomy, independence, self-sufficiency are goals and indicators of good parenting. I can’t be selfish with them and keep them at the level where they think I am a hero and belong on a pedastal. I must nudge, cajole, correct, press, explain, nurture, educate, encourage and yes, even annoy my children to meet this goal. Then I applaud as they reach the next developmental milestone, of which, initially are glowing moments where our hearts soar too with pride. We cheer, clap, hug, give high fives, maybe even do a little dance from joy and pick up our phone to share the news, “Sam has just made his first poopie in the potty all by himself!” We, like they, are elated.
However, as life progresses, and if we are lucky, so do the milestones– the clapping and pride remains, yet the exuberance is not quite the same. The nice phrase, is as our children grow and change, we may feel “conflicted.” The reality of the eventual parting of residences is looming on the horizon, so under the pride is a veil of hesitancy and some of the ouch factor inherent to life itself. The number or level of ouch factor is different for each parent- child relationship, but it’s there. We all know some parent-child relationships which are as so stormy, there is often a collective sigh when the child crosses the threshold and, by various standards, considered “grown”. I shall pass over the issue where only the age is considered the standard and many lost souls are launched unprepared into the world of adults. That’s another topic for another time. The issue of focus is there comes the time when it is my job to cheer, encourage my child to establish his/her own life and I have experienced this once already, my heart will be “conflicted”. For me, conflicted was tears, snotty nose running too much for the two-ply tissues (why didn’t I bring more?!) and heaving quietly so not to draw attention to my blotchy face marked by rivers colored by mascara (why didn’t I buy waterproof?!). Yes, this is how “conflicted” looked for me. It wasn’t poetic, nor was it as portrayed on TV. Nothing is as seen on TV. Not even the products you see lining the local mart with a bold red seal touting”As Seen On TV!”. TV is not life. Life is messy. “Conflicted” was messy for me.
So, I have my dogs. I pamper my dogs and, yes, even praise them when they make their first poopy outside. However, I do not call my friends and family about Balto’s bowel movement. I keep these triumphs to the household residents. Yet, with my dogs I can foster co-dependence and talk to them like they are two even when they are 63 in doggy years. I can baby, pamper and love on them lavishly and not worry I have embarrassed them because their friends are watching. I also am loved unconditionally and remain the center of their universe. No eye rolling from them. And come on, we all have days where we need to be a hero in someone or something’s eyes.
I see my babies lying peacefully near me, sunning themselves. Sigh. It IS a beautiful day! Time for a walk!